Rackspace throws weight behind big data boot camp

Rackspace aims to help PhD students gain big data skills

Rackspace is backing the launch of the first ever boot camp for data scientists in a bid to tackle the growing skills gap across the IT sector.

The cloud provider has helped set up the Science to Data Science summer school, which has been designed to put the analytical skills of PhD students from varied science and mathematics backgrounds to the test with real-life big data projects. KPMG, Hortonworks and Royal Mail have also backed the boot camp.

Eighty-five PhD students from 24 countries, including the UK, US, Germany and Italy, were picked from hundreds of applicants to take part in the summer camp.

Interestingly, 35 percent of participating students are female, equating to almost triple the average number typically seen in the IT industry.

Now underway in London, the summer school will run for five weeks and end with a one-day job fair where the students will have the chance to meet companies that are interested in hiring data scientists, such as Royal Mail and KPMG.

The students will also receive tuition from industry experts and companies, one of which includes Rackspace.

With businesses increasing their use of big data tools, there is a growing need for data scientists who can analyse large amounts of information to be used for commercial purposes.

According to IT Job Watch, the number of UK data scientist positions has jumped by 1,005 percent over the past two years, signalling the importance of big data and analytics to businesses.

The move to establish a data science-focused school follows the IT industry’s concerns that there is a lack of people with modern digital skills needed to fill future job posts.

While PhD students may have the essential core analytical abilities to become data scientists, they can lack the coding or programming skills needed to fully deconstruct databases of big data.

Matthew Eric Bassett, director of Data Science at NBCUniversal, will be teaching part of the course and believes that it will build upon the core skills of the participants. “They have the raw research ability that will translate directly into the skills they need,” he said.

Particle physics PhD student Chris Wallace, who is participating in the course, hopes it will give him some insight into the life of a data scientist, and help him understand how to shape his academic skills to suit an IT role.

“One of the hardest things about making the move from academia to industry is convincing employers you have the relevant skills,” explained Wallace.

With Microsoft predicting that there will be a huge technology skills shortage by 2025, many companies and public sector organisations are pushing to narrow the skills gap that could hit the IT sector.

Last year, the UK government announced that a new curriculum will be in place by September to teach basic coding in school while Wales is introducing a software university to teach students the skills they need to secure a job in the IT industry.

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5 August 2014 | 2:45 pm – Source: v3.co.uk

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